The Last Frontier has relaunched a huge effort to support small businesses in the state.
Formerly an internet platform, the ‘Buy Alaska’ program from the University of Alaska’s Small Business Development Center has been dormant since 2017.
The Last Frontier Renews Push for ‘Buy Alaska’
‘Buy Alaska’ has been taken by Katie Ashbaugh. It was at the start of the pandemic in 2020. The purpose was to retool the project toward a new goal. Making Alaskan-owned businesses first and educating and encourage the public to shop at them. The economic and social benefits of supporting Alaskan-owned businesses were outlined by Ashbaugh in a presentation to the Sitka Chamber of Commerce in February.
‘Buy Alaska’ Regional Resiliency
“We are supporting our regional resiliency by supporting small businesses,” said Ashbaugh. Innovation and growth regionally spur the growth of businesses. This is unique to locations. It can be really important to Alaskans who are facing their own specific challenges and environments. Relying on Amazon can create volatility. When they can’t, or won’t, deliver, in addition they can raise their prices. Or their shipping costs to remote locations. Then, by that time, local stores have since gone out of business. Making our communities reliant on outside resources. Moreover, we want to really make sure we are in fact supporting small to develop that regional resiliency. Many small businesses across many sectors of the economy also are known as economic diversification. It reduces a community’s risk of economic disruption. That is if one large employer goes out of business. Therefore, we want to make sure that we’re diversifying to remain resilient.”
Small Business Stats
The chamber audience is that small businesses in Alaska have employed just over half of the private workforce (53%) said, Ashbaugh. Moreover, she said that recent economic studies have indicated that 63-percent of revenue from local business remains in the state. It is in comparison to the 23-percent of non-local business revenue.
Ashbaugh said that UAA’s Small Business Development Center will remain a major resource for both new and current small businesses in the state. The Buy Alaska program will continue to focus on public awareness and branding.
The services of the SBDC will be ongoing free until March 31st.
The link to Ashbaugh’s full presentation to the Sitka Chamber of Commerce here.